March 30, 2014
I’ve been a fan of Matthew McConaughey since I saw him in Dazed Confused, which is one of my favorite movies. For those who haven’t seen it, it is a celebration of the 1970s and McConaughey plays a laid back guy in his 20s working for the city who loves to pick up on high school girls. Until I saw him in this movie, I was more of a fan of him in a funny sense, but here he proves he can also play a serious role quite well when he wants to. His role combined with a focus on character development and strong underlying messages make Dallas Buyers Club a must see movie.
McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof in the mid 1980s. He is an electrician and rodeo bull rider who lives his life in excess in every sense of the word; cocaine, heavy drinking, gambling, and lots of unprotected sex with hookers and women he barely knows. One day after he accidentally electrocutes himself at work, he ends up in the hospital and the doctors diagnose him with HIV and tell him he has 30 days to live. He refuses to accept the news and does whatever he can to prolong his life. During this era, no drugs were yet approved by the FDA to fight and/or slow down HIV so people were pretty much told to wait to die. Woodroof instead by unconventional and sometimes illegal avenues finds several drugs and vitamins to prolong his life and others. His journey and how his character changes throughout the course of the movie are the most significant parts of what make the movie great though.
Woodroof starts out as a completely homophobic cocky jerk who doesn’t care about anyone, but himself and even that is pretty questionable. Due to the nature of the transmission of HIV a lot more homosexual and/or bisexual males have it so when Woodroof starts selling the drugs and vitamins he has to learn to deal with them better and begins to realize they aren’t much different than him other than their sexual preference. He ends up forming a business partnership with a transvestite who becomes the best friend he has ever had. By the end of the movie, he is like a completely different person because he becomes sympathetic for anyone with the virus, is no longer homophobic, and learns to really appreciate life. One of the movie’s messages it seems to emphasize the most is that we only have one life, and we need to learn to appreciate the short amount of time we have. It does an excellent job delivering that message, which is a big reason why it shouldn’t be missed.